Her parents, electrical geeks, got rich off of her.
She was five years old, wearing pink tights, squalling and wailing on the pavement. That scene transformed into a gif, which later turned into one of the first gif greeting cards, then gif bumper stickers and dangling gif decorations for Christmas trees, cars, closets. Her parents even started a small line of gif clothing and accessories. Watches, earrings, and of course those T-shirts that were later banned.
People would recognize her. “Hey, aren’t you that gif kid?”
She stomped, yelled, cried and begged her parents to stop, but they only got more gifs out of her.
Now she just shakes her head and laughs with everyone else. At her senior graduation party, her gifs came up floating on the big screen, but by then everyone else also had a gif so it wasn’t that bad. At her promotion party, they had a large gif card dangling from the ceiling. At her engagement party, all of them came flickering up like strobes that had people in the audience passing out. At the wedding, a three-tier gif wedding cake.
Her husband loves it, thinks it’s adorable, wants them to have fifty kids.
They don’t have fifty kids, but they do have fifty gifs of other people’s kids. Their friend comes over one day exclaiming: “You got to see this!”
They wait while he toys with their electrical gadgets and then boom, the lights go off and those fifty gifs are up on their living room wall: kids falling, kids being scared, kids making funny faces in permanent repeat and, in the middle of it all, he manages to put her first gif up there. Her husband laughs. He laughs and laughs. He laughs so much she thinks he’s going to die. She leans in closer to look, her hand about to touch him, but she stops. He’s looking straight at her his laughter gone, tears running down his face. She pulls her hand away and when the light comes on leaves the room.
Those fifty gif kids soon begin having their own kids with gifs. Their parents send them until one by one they stop coming. She’s grateful, because she doesn’t know who is who and what is what.
She goes to the grave sites to remember. She walks, admiring the graves with their bright twinkling LEDS and motioned activated holograms and mini home videos. She buys a hot dog and a soda and walks past the popcorn makers, the red candy apple sellers, the picnickers, until she comes across her parents’ elaborate gravestone. A picture of her mom and dad is at each end of the gravestone, and in the middle is her glitching gif on repeat, surrounded by flashing stars and hearts. She stuffs the hot dog in her mouth, watching the gif as the sky gradually turns dark. She gulps down the last of the hot dog and sets down her soda. She looks around. Behind an old tree stump is a rock. She grabs the rock, gets down on her knees and bashes that gif. She moves onto the next one, and the next, punching the gifs, destroying the flashing LED lights and home video projectors. Parents pull their children out of her way. The kids are crying. Balloons leave their hands and disappear in the sky. The security guards come running. Behind her they yell, they tell her to stop.
They come closer and twist her arms backward, popping them like plastic bubble wrap. They take out their cans, ready to spray. The crowd surrounds them. She knows they’re filming her. She knows they’re taking pictures. She knows she’ll be a gif anime. She faces the guards, her eyes wide open. She’ll be something that lasts forever.
Xenia Taiga lives in southern China with a cockatiel and an Englishman. She’s currently shopping her novel, The Russians are Bringing a Monkey. http://xeniataiga.com/